The Florida Cup Arrives in St. Pete

One of the largest international sporting events in Florida comes to the Burg.

St. Pete is a soccer city. When the Rowdies have a home match the city pours into Al Lang Stadium donned in their green and gold best to cheer on on our local soccer squad. The team’s prominence locally and nationally continues to grow. In 2016, the team made the official jump from the NASL to the USL, and harbors aspirations of joining Major League Soccer (MLS).

2017 ushers in a new era for the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

These high aspirations have spurred owner Bill Edwards to renovate the stadium. Soon, Al Lang will be able to seat up to 18,000 soccer fans. Additional updates include improved concessions and upgraded box and Midfielder’s Club seats. The push toward a new era for the Tampa Bay Rowdies begins on January 7 with the start of the Florida Cup — one of the largest international sporting events held in the Sunshine State each year.

12 teams. Four Continents. One Florida Cup.

The event is a major draw for some of the most renowned talent across the globe. Steve Nash — best known for his tenure in the NBA as one of the premier point guards and hardwood technicians to ever play the game — is set to play in the Florida Cup‘s All-Star match.

“I am excited to host such high-caliber international clubs at Al Lang Stadium,” said Rowdies Chairman, CEO and Governor Bill Edwards. “This will be a great opportunity for soccer fans from all over the world to enjoy St. Petersburg and everything that it has to offer. We’re looking forward to hosting 2017 Florida Cup matches at Al Lang Stadium and showing it off across the globe.”

Matches are broadcasted live to over 170 countries, reaching over 650 million households.

“We are thrilled to partner with Bill Edwards and the Rowdies to expand the reach of the Florida Cup to the west coast of Florida,” said Florida Cup CEO Ricardo Villar. “The Florida Cup continues to draw growing interest from the best clubs around the world, all looking to compete at the highest level as they prepare for their respective seasons. We are thrilled to welcome the Rowdies, Wolfsburg and River to the event.”

The tournament will feature a challenge and a playoff.

The tournament will run through January 27 and will feature two distinct formats:

  • FC Challenge – A Davis Cup-modeled competition similar to the format during the Florida Cup’s debut in 2015, with Clubs representing Countries, each vying for points to secure the tournament title for their home nation. This phase will occur from Jan. 7 – Jan. 14.
  • FC Playoff – A single-elimination round of international teams where only one remaining champion will thrive. This phase will occur from Jan. 15 – Jan 21.

12 teams from four continents will compete in this prestigious tournament. The Tampa Bay Rowdies first match takes place on Sunday, January 8 against VFL Wolfsburg (GER) at Al Lang Stadium. Click HERE for tickets and packages, as well as a full calendar of matches. Other participating teams include: Club Atletico River Plate (ARG), Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER), Esporte Clube Bahia (BRA), Club Estudiantes de La Plata (ARG), Sport Club Corinthians Paulista (BRA), Vasco Da Gama (BRA), Barcelona Sporting Club (ECU), Sao Paulo Futebol Clube (BRA) and Millonarios Futbol Club (COL).

Written by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey is the founder and editor of I Love the Burg and That's So Tampa. In addition to regular contributions to each blog, he's been featured as a commentator to Bay New 9, The Tampa Tribune, The Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Bay Business Journal and The Business Observer as well as national outlets including The Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Bailey also serves as the CEO of, a Tampa Bay-based digital agency.